Board may opt for question on 2-step budget process

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OXFORD — The Oxford Hills School District Board of Directors will decide whether they want to place a question on the annual town election ballot to discontinue the two-step budget approval validation process.

“The board has to decide whether to put it on the ballot,” said Superintendent Mark Eastman of the process. It involves a budget hearing/meeting where voters in all eight towns approve a series of budget warrant articles and a follow-up ballot question, which validates the final budget figure approved at the budget meeting.

This district has used the ballot for a number of years after a citizen’s petition requested the format to bring more voters into the budget process. Eastman said that typically the budget hearing/meeting brings out 150 to 200 voters while the ballot question is acted on by as many as 2,000 voters.

“I felt, and I think the board agreed with me, that’s better. More people engaged and involved,” said Eastman of more voters who come out for the ballot.

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The Board of Directors now has the option to add a question to the ballot to see if voters want to discontinue the budget-approval validation referendum or to keep the current two-step approval process.

If the board decides to place the question on the ballot, voters will have the final say on the issue.

The Budget Committee is now finalizing its recommendations to the Board of Directors on April 5.

Following the budget presentation to the Board of Directors, hearings will be held in the eight towns of the district.

Otisfield and Oxford residents will have a budget presentation at the Oxford Elementary School on April 6, followed by Norway and Paris residents at the Paris Elementary School on April 7.

The following week, West Paris and Hebron residents will hear a budget presentation at the Hebron Station School on April 13, followed on April 14 by a budget presentation for Waterford and Harrison residents at the Harrison Elementary School. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

On May 3, the Board of Directors are schedule to take up the final budget.

On June 3, the budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School with the final budget validation referendum being held on June 8 for voters in all eight towns.

That ballot may or may not have the question to ask voters if they want to discontinue the two-tier process.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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